Song of the Ages

On the Road
Wyllo

It’s been a while, hasn’t it. I can’t remember now what the last thing we talked about, but I do recall having to go to Celeria and meeting a dead-end of a father who doesn’t mean much to me. I also recall looking into a certain dish of stuff that I’ve just now named the Wishing Well—though it was certainly _not_a wishing well. It was apparently a possibility of futures to come.

Almahen is in my future. Well. Our future, if we keep up this path that we’ve stumbled across. That we’re keeping to, I assume. That I think we keep realigning ourselves with, and I don’t think there’s any way to avoid it now. I haven’t really told anyone else this, just because sometimes I feel like even though there are a great many things I would do for this group of people—these Black Foxes, sometimes (most of the time), they don’t seem like the sort to really think with their minds. To really think at all. Dragons, killing shots, traitors. Yea, we have it all going for us.

After Celeria and my disappointing father dearest, we returned to Fort Dax and met with a pile of letters requesting aid. I have to say, it was a little overwhelming, and encountered a sealed and stamped letter asking us to go to the aid of the empress in Hamil. I don’t think I like being summoned, by the way, but we went, ran into some interesting political ties, my paranoia shot up about twenty degrees. I will tell you that it was enough to want to kill someone but I had the voice of reason literally stopping me in the form of Belfran. Hamil’s empress was requesting our aid because she was expecting an assassination attempt, and while researching whatever information we could find on this threat, Yoon and I ended up in a tavern that helped us with certain resources. [written in thieves’ cant] Certain resources meaning a certaind ark coin and Yoon having a tie to them. It was interesting, connecting those two pieces. [end thieves’ cant]

Our information led us to a servants’ uniform being smuggled into the palace and we had Belfran tag it. It led us to a certain older gentleman (he was not a gentleman) wearing the tagged uniform and sneaking around where he shouldn’t be. Paranoia wanted me to slice the guy’s throat open, as I mentioned. Belfran stopped me. If I remember correctly, I may have taken out his eye, but I also might just be letting certain violent fantasies get carried away. I have no regrets, considering that as Belfran insisted on taking this man somewhere to be questioned, we got to this grand ballroom/hallway and the guy conjured up a fucking marilith. Cue discovering Yoon also has some really fascinating magic flashing from her fingertips. I’m pretty sure I can tie together where it’s sourced from, though I’m missing some pieces of that story. It’s not really my business, though I wish she would just tell me.

At any rate, that surprise, combined with Mosi’s new werebear powers, managed to carry us through the assassination attempt. That and Belfran watching out for the empress (who, by the way, owes me money and I fully intend on sending her a letter about the expenses we accrued while trying to keep her safe), and so the empress’ life was saved, and we went back to Fort Dax. Mostly unscathed.

At Fort Dax, though, we had another situation to take care of. Several of the people who stay with us at the fort had gone to take care of a request from a farmer about missing livestock. They were a little shaken up and so those of us who had gone to Hamil ended up trying to figure out what was happening. We also dragged Sanders with us because Yoon seemed to like him and who am I to deny a budding friendship? It gave me a chance to get to know him a little as well, even though when it came down to it, we had to make sure that the thing taking the livestock didn’t eat him, too.

Yoon took care of that, and I can at least say that I knew she would be able to watch out for him even if she did want him to come along.

The thing taking livestock was a roc. A massive-ass bird. It ended up trying to carry Farin away and we tracked it far enough until realizing that Farin had gotten herself free. And then we continued to track it back to its nest and discovered two.

I’m not going to lie, it was kind of fun taking care of them. I missed these sorts of adventures.

Yoon went into the rocs’ nest after we managed to take care of the two of them and found some things. We even found a signet ring and I think we might try to get it back to some relatives of the man’s, just so that they know what happened to him.

Also, a lot of roc meat. And talons and feathers.

When we got back to the fort after this, we decided to start heading south. There have been some reports coming up from the south, and it’s also where Fulgen last was. I’m still annoyed with him, but I would have thought he’d gotten a hold of us by now, just to let us know what’s going on. Alternatively, there have also been reports from the north, which is where we’ve been seeing monsters that we shouldn’t be seeing (like rocs), but I think there were also reports that Almahen might be up there that deterred us from going north and vote instead to go south. I’m a little worried about not hearing from Fulgen, though. That’s still ok, right, despite the annoyance?

Anyway. We decided to go south and got Sanders and Yaavys to come with us and the former is now dead. Hence, the traitor. Yaavys, on the other hand, had interesting things going on with her journal. [written in Elvish] There was an awkward picture int here of me with Qelroth, let’s just leave it at that. [end Elvish] To make things short, I had to mediate and get her journal back because Farin decided to swipe it. Journals are personal. It’s not anyone’s business.

Oh, Sanders? Should I elaborate on that? Let’s just say that where Yoon wanted harass him, I know that she meant it in a way that just wanted to connect. Everyone’s been kind of weird to her lately, and it’s pissing me off, and Yoon getting to know Sanders also let me get to know him a little, so his being with us on missions let us keep an eye on him as well as chat with him. I don’t know what it was that made him betray us, and while said betrayal made me see red and want to kill him, I do know that I wouldn’t have once we caught him. I also know that Yoon wouldn’t have, but Farin, who seems more impulsive than most of us combined, probably didn’t think that far through.

When we got to White…something (I think? I’m still a little wired from the actual events), we got to our inn and Sanders disappeared into his room and Yoon and I went to check on him and heard voices coming from the other side. The door was blocked, so we tried to force our way in right as he opened the door to us after trying to ward off some time. We cornered him because something felt wrong, and then he used some sort of magic to disappear.

I went through his things and Yoon filled in our party members that were still down at the bar. We managed to gather up Oak and Farin and tried tracking Sanders, but found instead a zombie (what the fuck? HE COULD MAKE ZOMBIES THE WHOLE TIME?) and also ran into a goliath with a very broken leg. In the time it took us to decide to go back to the inn with her, we realized that with Sanders’ betrayal, something very bad might have been happening back at Fort Dax and Oak volunteered to go back. I won’t ever tell him how worried I was about him going by himself—it would have been like sending Yoon by herself, but I knew he could take care of himself. Yoon could have too, but that’s beside that point. The point is, he went by himself, and said he would send back information on what was going on there.

We didn’t hear anything until the next morning, and int hat time, we ran into a group of very large men who Yoon tried to get information from concerning Sanders. [written in thieves cant] It involved her coin. I’m a fan of not letting anyone else know about that. [/end thieves cant] and they told us they couldn’t help once we name dropped.

Yea. Paranoia more.

This is getting very long. Basically, following this, we saw that the large men were trying to sneak out with a smaller one in their midst, and when Farin got the killing shot, they dispersed. This was all Almahen’s doing, and even while wrapping up Sanders’ body and sending it back to Fort Dax via a teleportation spell, I wanted to know why Sanders turned on us. I want to know now why Almahen is so invested in us, even though I do now why.

I know I have trust issues, but this may have put me over the edge. I don’t think I’m going to have any shining moments anytime soon, though I do think that a certain protective side might also make an appearance.

I just want to know why.

…I think I already do, though. I have a feeling. I’ve been an outcast, too. I’ve been part of different groups of outcasts, and I can recognize in them what I know in myself. It also brings up the way our party interacts with each other. I think some changes need to be made. I suppose I’ll just have to see how this plays out. If I’m the supposed fearless leader, I guess it’s up to me to start up both of these things. The interaction and the changing.

Nobody sells me out. Nobody sells Yoon out, especially when she’s putting her ass on the line to make connection—even if it’s weird, the thought of Yoon and Sanders. It was still a connection. Nobody sells us out.

PS Mosi says the empress back in Hamil had a thing for me. I guess she was nice to look at, but…what in the actual fuck?

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I was almost dinner
Farin

After stopping an assassination in Hamil, our group returned to Fort Dax-my cousin’s fort- and learned that her sellswords had been unable to help some of the farmers in the area who were dealing with a roc problem.
So we went roc hunting.
I used a cow as bait, and when the roc showed up I started shooting it with my longbow… and that drew it’s attention to me. Instead of taking the cow, it grabbed me and took off. I managed to escape it’s grasp just before it landed in it’s nest (which was in the forest for some reason)
I tracked down my group and took them to the nest
Turns out there was two of them.
We managed to kill them both, and Heian made two longbows from the bones of the beasts. One of which he grudgingly gave to me.
Can’t wait to use it in battle, the thing has twice the range of any longbow I’ve ever seen!

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So which do we choose? Yup, the one on the other side of the world

Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a bit surprised by how this fort has been coming along. You might have seen it back when we first started, but just consider it now! The keep’s walls are coming along nicely, the inn is finished and, to top it all off? We actually have personal rooms, with actual doors! What, did you expect me to be focused on something else? Well, yeah, I suppose it’s worth noting the number of merchants, farmers and such that have set up around the keep, but quite honestly, they can go elsewhere for all I care. Why, just the other day one older fellow dared call me Lord Mosi. I nearly pulled my hammer out at that, let me tell you that. I ain’t no lord and that’s not just because of how I dress. I’ve seen what nobles do and I’m not about to pretend to be one just to fill some need these folk think they need. Gah, just thinking about it makes me want to hit something… but I suppose things could be worse. After all, with a lich plotting something that threatens at least one kingdom and at most all of creation, then complaints of being mistaken nobility is pretty petty of me, isn’t it?

Speaking of that lich, we had heard of a few places that sound like they used to be some of his old keeps, one north and south. After some discussion, we decided to check out the one in the southern wastes, if just to also see what happened to Fulgin. Last we’d heard, he’d gone south to try to find out more about the lich, so we would try to find him while we traveled that way. Fortunately, I think Fulgin stands out enough that he’ll be easy to track. How many people do you know rant about plot, narrative and pathos like he did? Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else like that either.

We decided to take a boat along the coast this time, rather than try to trek south. Got to pass through Westport again and I’ve got to say, the place has changed quite a bit while we’ve been gone. Granted, the town’s still half a wreck, but the mist has blown out and people actually look at you with something other than fear and suspicion when you pass them on the street. I don’t rightly know how much they know about what their former Duke had been up to or even what he’d been, but they’re acting like people again and not just corpses waiting to die.

There were a few ships and we caught one down for most of the trip, then we trekked through some woodlands to save some time. Came across a giant while we were there and believe me when I say he had a really nice sword. I really wanted to get it off his corpse afterwards and bring it back here, but in the end we left him alone. It didn’t seem like he was threatening the locals and all he demanded from us was his space. I at least can respect that and since there was plenty of wilds, I couldn’t begrudge him his demand. Still, it was a really nice sword.

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So we were trying to expect the unexpected, right?

Now, I mentioned that the others were out and checking every possible thing they could think of to see who, how or when an assassin may try to kill the Empress, right? And I thought I was paranoid back when we moved that magic circle to our keep! At least with the keep it just opened the chance for our enemies to get to us quicker. Here? The best we could hear was this possibility of someone blending in as a servant during the ball. Would this be an attempt on the Empress? Who knew, because we sure didn’t! Fortunately though, they managed to not only find the fake but also capture him. However, when they brought him back for questioning, they mistakenly crossed paths with the Empress and myself. Turns out he’d already set up a trap and all he needed was to know that she was near before he set it off. So, he did some quick mumbo jumbo and then suddenly there was a large demon right in the room with us!

Oh, you heard about this? I guess gossip does get around, even if she never did officially release the exact details of the attempt. Well, fine- we don’t have to get into the actual fight against the demon, just the fact that we won and the Empress lived. Whatever magic the fake servant had used to summon the demon had cost him dearly though as his own arm was somehow destroyed when he summoned it, but we were able to save him too and question him enough to hear that he had been backed by a few in the government. The Empress quickly rounded them up and we spent the next day or two making sure none had slipped away. All well and good, but it does worry me though. The assassin had summoned a demon by getting help from a new group of assassins. Just when we had thought we had a handle on vampire assassins, a new group shows up consorting with demons of all things!

At least I was able to bring some rum home with me.

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No wonder leaders and politicians are all mad

If there’s something good I can say about Hamil, it’s that the rum is strong and plentiful. And believe me, I’ve needed it. We took the empress’ job offer, protecting her from these supposed assassins, but I would have at least asked for more money if I knew what it would entail. If you’re a bodyguard to nobility, it turns out you need to look like it. Now, I’m not saying I was filthy before, I just didn’t mind getting a little dirty. The others make it out to be more than it actually is, but they do it mostly in jest, I think. The empress though? Turns out she had some pretty high standards on my appearance before she’d let me watch over her. So I ended up being scrubbed down daily- daily! mind you!- and dressed up like some kind of palace decoration. At least the butler knew how to properly braid a beard, or I might have started taking off limbs by the second time around.

And what, might you ask, is she getting me so dressed up for? To sit around and listen for hours on end to her and the other politicians in the city to argue, bicker and gripe back and forth! Here I was expecting… well, I don’t know what I was expecting. Admittedly, I don’t spend a lot of time around kings and empresses, but judging by the stories, their lives should have been full of leading armies, hosting grand balls and contending with assassins daily. Though there might be elements of that in what I saw, for the most part I was stuck trying to remain awake for hours on end listening to Stone knows how many arrogant and spoiled lords and pretend lords arguing over grain! I wanted to take my hammer to the lot of them within the first hour and, by the second hour, I wanted to take it to my own head.

The others helped, but they also spent some of their time trying to find the mysterious assassins before they’d even have a chance to strike. They met with underground contacts, palace spy-mongers, and librarians all to enact convoluted plots that might or might not reveal any plots against her greenness. Don’t mistake me, after dealing with her for a few days I could tell that she was better than most nobles I’ve met, but half of the time she either seems to have no idea what she’s doing or being treated like she has no idea what she’s doing. She needs to slam some heads together, if you ask me. Get her hands dirty and her royal self bloodied. Make mistakes and own up to them. That’s the only real way you can grow at anything… but that’s not here or now.

So, I mentioned balls, right? Turns out she was going to host one about a week into our job. One of the few leads we’d heard in that time was that someone was trying to slip among the servants. Why? We didn’t rightly know, but we certainly had our suspicions that whatever they were planning would take place around this ball. As such, I stuck to the empress’ side and waited for the rocks to drop. I’d at least be there to stop some of them.

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Not quite sure who to hit here...

I guess after our trip to Northwatch, plenty of things have been happening. I missed most of them since I was out with Mama Broarhush, ummm, training. Yeah, training. But Belfran and some of the others managed to move a large magical circle from Northwatch to our fort, so now we’re expecting more travel and trade to start making its way through our lands. Sounds well and good, but the more people fill up the fort and the easier it is for our enemies to blend in and stab us in the back. Yeah, that might sound a bit paranoid, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Remember, you’re not really crazy if they are, in fact, out to get you. And I think we both know that we’ve been through enough to have enough enemies to watch out for. I just wished they’d come and be crushed right away and be done with it.

Sorry, I’m just frustrated, is all. You see, after some time at the fort, we got a summons to Hamil by none other than their empress. Not much was in the letter, but it did say she wished to speak with us as soon as possible. So off we went. We cut around the mountains and along the coast for a bit, which could have gone very badly for us. Turns out there’s a rather large dragon in those parts and, though the others didn’t seem too keen on fighting it, I’d rather kill it than worry about who it might end up eating in the future. We managed to leave it alone though and made good time from Land’s End to Veleth on a boat we caught.

Once there, things got real confusing real fast. Not only is the place full of strange contraptions that run on lightning of all things, but turns out we were hired to protect the empress from people who wanted her dead. Now, who is this mysterious group of people? We have no idea! We met with one of her advisers at first who practically oozed of politics and corruption, but after just a day or two here, I’m beginning to double guess myself on whether it’d be a good thing to go find him and kill him on the spot. Plus, even if he did want the empress, a green wisp of a girl, dead, who’s to say if he was the only one? It’s making my head hurt just thinking about it and my head has been feeling funny since Northwatch. Mama Broarhush says I’ll get used to it in time, but I just want to rush out and maul something, but nothing is presenting itself! This is worse than fighting mist!

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Investigating a Hypothetical Murder
Belfran

Known suspects

Loyalist Party

We should try to clear these guys as suspects first since it would be nice to have some allies. This might be a show of force to keep the empress in line, or an effort to install a more agreeable ruler. Since their political power is largely an extension of the power of the empress, they would be unhappy with an empress who isn’t doing a good job.

Populist Party or Establishment Party

Even though these guys are technically different political organizations, I can’t help but lump them together. These are the primary suspects. They both benefit from a stronger congress with respect to the empress. They might resent the Empress’s rising power, but they would probably be better served by keeping the empress busy and ignorant rather than replacing her. Seeding rumors so she spends her time and resources chasing false assassins might be exactly what they need.

The advisers

Another group who should be loyal to the empress, but might expect the empress to be loyal to them.

Lord Braxton

It sure seems like he’s just an agent of some other force, but The Game is all about making things seem like they are not.

The Empress herself

This is the least likely, but also the most dangerous. Despite her professed disdain for The Game, the empress has been playing it with at least a little success. Maybe she is not as oblivious as she seems. This may be a plot to have the Black Foxes poke around and expose the secrets of her rivals. Or to get us to frame someone. Or to set us up as scapegoats for something. We will surely make a spectacle of ourselves, running around questioning people, standing guard in court. This would almost surely result in our arrest.

Other things to look into

- What happens on the Empress’s death? Is there a successor? How is a successor chosen?
- What if it’s just an empty threat and the underhand hasn’t been contracted at all? Who benefits from that?
- What political actions has the empress taken recently? What enemies might she have angered?

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A letter to Father
Farin

Father,
I know you’re probably not expecting to hear from me so soon. I’m sorry I was being an ass when I visited. I am glad that I did get to see you.
I’m not writing however, just to talk about my feelings and behavior. I need to let you know that my friends’ and I are facing something big.
We’re going up against a lich. I don’t know if I’ll survive, so I figured the least I could do is inform you. You deserve that at least.
Don’t try and convince me not to fight. I’m committed to my team, they are my chosen family now and I will stand with them.
If you have need to contact me, send a hawk to Fort Dax.

Farewell,
Farin

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Another Dimension
Farin

No sooner had we arrived at Fort Dax were we sent out on another mission, accompanied by some half-elf that Wyllo knows. I haven’t had much time to write, been busy trudging through swamp land and killing zombies. We were hired to fight off a necromancer and his army of the undead. Not really a terribly hard task. Or so I figured. But since leaving the fort we’ve been attacked by Were-bears, I’ve been possessed by some sort of ghost and Mosi and I were sent to another dimension of sorts by Belfran.
I took care to make sure we laid to rest the corpses that the necromancer turned into play-things.
They deserve at least that.
Also Mosi thinks I have a thing for him… eww
There are a lot of things I’d be willing to fuck. Gross hairy dwarf with little hygiene standards is definitely not on the list

I think being in a group is stressing Fenris out. Poor thing isn’t used to the company of others. It’s usually just me and him. I’m reluctant to leave, however. Not sure why. I guess I’ve missed the companionship of family more than I realized…

Oh, and I guess we’re going to be hunting down a lich… grand

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Fort Dax is Going to be Important
Belfran

With a portal in Fort Dax, it will have the potential of being a prominent trade hub. It will be the only magical portal in Sutherland, with reasonable access to Bayacre and the Deep Road. Sure, it presents difficulties as far as security goes, but there are ways to manage that. Fort Dax must be politically and economically significant if it going to stand a change of outlasting any of us.

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